Go back in time with the historical ‘Clock House,’ on the market for $2.19 million

Trolling through real estate listings, Ping-Ponging between bleak apartments and gaudy mansions, I occasionally stumble upon something of big historical note, and the most recent example is the current offering of the so-called “Clock House,” built in 1935 for prominent Long Beach attorney and former president of the United States Golf Association John Clock and his wife Blanche.

The home, listed by Taylor Kincaid of Garcia/Kincaid, is tucked into a quiet part of Long Beach’s Country Club area at 525 Devon Place, though you might have seen it on your right as you head down Devon to Rancho Los Cerritos.

Its listing price of $2.19 million is less daunting when you consider the home’s pedigree, and its owners are deservedly termed “stewards” rather than mere owners. And stewardship has been a long-term endeavor at the Clock House. Shortly after John Clock died in 1975, William and Mary Stanton bought the house from Clock’s widow, and became the home’s second owners/stewards.

“We’ve taken good care of the house,” says a cheery Mary Stanton, a Long Beach Unified School District board member for 24 years whose surgeon husband, William, died in Nov. 2018. “Now my dog and I have just been rolling around in a 4,000-square foot home on a huge lot.”

The formal dining room with a view of the garden at “The Clock House” in Los Cerritos. Listing photo.

The Clock home is significant both inside and out. The house, with a medley of Colonial, English and Spanish influences, was built for Clock by the noted architect Kirtland Cutter, who soared to fame as a Spokane architect designing several hundred buildings in that area in late 1800s and the early part of the last century, including the majestic Davenport Hotel, which lays claim to being the first hotel in the country with air-conditioning as well as the birthplace of the crab louie, named for the hotel’s owner Louis Davenport.

In 1893, Cutter designed the Idaho Building, a rustic mansion that was a major draw at the Chicago World’s Fair that year and is considered to be an early precursor to the Arts and Crafts movement.

By the 1930s, Cutter had begun working in California, where he built not only the John Clock House, but also one for for William Stanton’s grandfather on Ximeno Avenue and a few others in Los Cerritos/Bixby Knolls, including the Thomas Rowan House on Linden Avenue, which was later purchased by Gemini/Apollo/Skylab astronaut and McDonnell Douglas vice president Pete Conrad, according to Stanton.

In 1937, Cutter designed the Fleming House on Balboa Island in Newport Beach for Victor Fleming, the director of “The Wizard of Oz” and “Gone With the Wind.”

The Clock House today mirrors the quality of its stewardship, with loads of rich wood throughout with simple Federalist design features. It has five bedrooms and six baths, a luxurious formal dining room and a kitchen that has old-school touches along with more modern appliances.

Stepping outside, the sprawling grounds of the property, designed by another world-class artist, landscape designer Ralph D. Cornell, have also been maintained, though it’s sometimes more difficult to keep nature from going its own ways.

“Unfortunately, trees have a lifespan, so some of the originals have died, but we’ve tried to replace them with the same kind,” said Stanton. “And Blanche wanted all white flowers in the landscaping, which makes the grounds beautiful at night, but I like a little color, so I added some.”

The grounds at the home on Devon Place was designed by Ralph Cornell, whose work includes the restoration of the garden at the nearby Los Cerritos Ranch House. Listing photo.

Cornell’s impressive resume includes co-designing Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve in La Jolla and designing Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery, the La Brea Tar PIts, Beverly Gardens and restoring the gardens at Los Cerritos Ranch House.

At the Clock House property, he also decorated the grounds with indigenous plantings, something that he had more than a passing interest in, having written books on the subject, one of which he signed and gave to Blanche, who gave it to the Stantons and, says Mary, she intends to give it to the next stewards of the home.

The Stantons, like the Clocks, were generous with their home, throwing it open to various organizations like the Long Beach Symphony for galas and fundraisers. “We had the space and enjoyed doing it,” said Mary.

And now she’s back on the house hunt for the first time in 45 years.

“I don’t know where I’ll end up buying,” she said. “It’ll be in Long Beach for sure. I don’t move around much.” She was born in town, as was her husband. She went to Wilson, he went to Poly.

“I just need a place for me and my dog,” she said, “and that’s close to one of my children or the other.”

Support our journalism.

Hyperlocal news is an essential force in our democracy, but it costs money to keep an organization like this one alive, and we can’t rely on advertiser support alone. That’s why we’re asking readers like you to support our independent, fact-based journalism. We know you like it—that’s why you’re here. Help us keep hyperlocal news alive in Long Beach.

Tim Grobaty is a columnist and opinions editor for the Long Beach Post. He began his newspaper career at the Press-Telegram in 1976 as a copy boy and moved on to feature writer, music critic, TV critic, copy editor and daily columnist. He’s the author of several books, including I’m Dyin’ Here, and he lives in Long Beach.